How Does “Rolling Admission” Work?

Question: Can you please explain what Rolling Admissions means and how colleges determine when to send out your decision?

“Rolling Admission” colleges and universities evaluate applications as they arrive, and decisions are mailed shortly thereafter—usually within two months. Places are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thus, when considering Rolling Admission schools, it usually makes sense to apply as soon as possible. I say “usually” because, if your junior grades were weaker than your norm or if you’re hoping to improve SAT or ACT scores, then it can be wise to postpone your application until you have stronger stuff to show the colleges.

Note, however, that Rolling Admission plans may have financial aid and/or housing “priority deadlines.” Try to apply well in advance of these since latecomers can be disappointed.

Most Rolling Admission schools will tell you (either right on their Web site or by phone, if you call to ask) what sort of turnaround time to expect … two weeks, two months, etc. Sometimes this can vary depending on the influx of applications at the time you submitted yours. Also, if all of your materials have not arrived, then your application may be put back on the shelf, and you will be stuck at the end of the queue. This can postpone your verdict for weeks … or forever, if your materials don’t show up eventually.

Thus, as an applicant, it is your responsibility to make sure that all application components have reached their destination. (Just because you’re certain that you sent them doesn’t mean that they were received or properly filed.) If you haven’t gotten a response from a Rolling Admission college within the time frame you anticipated, then you should check right away–if you haven’t done so already–to make sure that your folder isn’t gathering dust in the “Incomplete” pile.

Hope that helps. Good luck to you as your college verdicts “roll” in.

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